A sassy parrot and a free-spirited librarian upend the well-ordered life of a solitary man. Lyman (Jackson Hurst) is a loner, working the graveyard shift for the Courtesy Patrol. Orphaned by a car wreck that killed his parents when he was four years old, he knows only his last name and approximate year of birth. When a green parrot flies in to his trailer and announces, 'Shut up!" and "I'm an eagle!" he becomes obsessed with finding its owner, which leads him to FIONA (Rachel Nichols). She has been eying Lyman from a distance and decides to help with his parrot search, whether he wants her to or not. Along with her basset hound, they set out on a quest to find the bird's previous owners and Fiona begins to unravel the mysteries of Lyman's past. But when Fiona joins Lyman on his nightly rounds, she witnesses a reality more intense than the romantic version she had envisioned. Ultimately, once Lyman is able to reconcile with is past, he is able to break free of his dark world and they ... Written by
Some details about the parrot's life with his various owners: The original owners were Gypsies, but nothing is known from that period. The Campbells named him 'Mr. Roosevelt', and he learned to say their phone number "MA 17". Nothing specific is said about his time with Emma Cowen. The Hall's mentally challenged son learned to speak from the parrot. Duncan Weber owned him as a child, and called him 'Tonto'. Eli Stowalski got him in 1968, where he learned to say "I'm an eagle". In 1979 the Ballards named him 'Shelton', and he learned to say "prepare to meet your maker". The Murray Retirement Home got rid of him for repeatedly saying "prepare to meet your maker". In the Reeves home he learned to say "shut up". And finally, Lyman names him 'Zane'. See more »
Upside down people, the graveyard shift. Whatever you call us. We're the ones working at night while you sleep. We look out for each other. Or, I looked out for Lyman, and he looked out for everyone else. But off the road he thought everyone else had read the big instruction manual. Lyman wasn't gonna talk until he had it all figured out. Riding that highway loop night after night was the only job he'd ever had, unless you count all the classes he took at the Community College. Oh ...
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Character actress turned filmmaker Margaret Whitton demonstrates real directorial savvy with A BIRD OF THE AIR, an appealing dramedy adapted by Roger Towne ("The Natural") from Joe Coomer's 1992 novel THE LOOP. Indie production may be low-profile amongst the high-concept Hollywood product out there, but is a highly recommended movie.
Originally optioned by Oprah and later acquired by Matthew McConaughey as a vehicle for himself and post-SAHARA (but pre-Oscar) Penelope Cruz, Whitton's eventual version benefits from casting unknown leads.
Jackson Hurst toplines as Lyman, a handsome introvert with zero social skills, whose job is cleaning up the interstate in rural New Mexico by night, aiding stranded or injured motorists. A beautiful, flighty young librarian Fiona (winningly personified by Rachel Nichols) sets her romantic sights on Lyman, and a decidedly unconventional bond develops between the mismatched pair.
A couple of non-human characters balance and amplify the drama, as a parrot mysteriously flies into Lyman's trailer home one day, an aged, lost soul like our orphan hero. Fiona's basset hound is the other leading player, at first downright hostile to Lyman, but later helping to break down his protective shell.
Much of the narrative revolves around Lyman's quest to track down the previous owners of the parrot, while Fiona researches Lyman's own shady background. Director Whitton has cleverly distorted the voices of those owners to provide a voice for the humorously loquacious bird, whose pronouncements hint at the film's underlying themes.
Brief but telling character turns are provided by the succession of owners, all sympathetically acted by a diverse group of talents including Buck Henry, Judith Ivey and Phyllis Sommerville. Film buffs will also note a welcome (albeit fleeting) return to the screen by Anjanette Comer as Buck's wife. Also forceful in support is Linda Emond as a diner waitress who mothers Lyman and narrates the picture.
Flavorful but not showy lensing by Oscar-winner Philippe Rousselot is a plus, and the film remains offbeat without succumbing to the cutesy clichés that tempt so many indie efforts of late. Hurst is disarming as the central hunk, acting in a style reminiscent of early Harrison Ford (before he started taking himself a bit too seriously) and Nichols, in quite a turnabout after co-starring opposite CONAN THE BARBARIAN, is a radiant heroine.
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